Eagles Redemption: Landon Collins Needs To Be Their Priority
By Jesse Shuter
Dec 6, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Landon Collins (26) during the 2014 SEC Championship Game against the Missouri Tigers at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports.
The Philadelphia Eagles are listed as one of the most likely contenders for 2015 on virtually every sports web site out there. That is a nice thing to look forward to and hope for, but the fact of the matter is that unless the Eagles make good decisions in free agency and great decisions at the draft they may find themselves in the same spot as 2014, out of the playoffs.
The Eagles main problem, as everyone knows, is that they have some serious holes in their secondary. Both of their cornerbacks from 2014 were below average at best, the play by cornerback Bradley Fletcher down the final stretch of the season bordered on horrendous. They also need another safety to play deep and replace the weak link that was Nate Allen.
The draft has quite a few top options at cornerback, but only one top option at safety. The top options at cornerback are Michigan State’s Trae Waynes, Washington’s Marcus Peters, LSU’s Jalen Collins, Wake Forest’s Kevin Johnson, and FSU’s P.J. Williams.
Of those I have actually been fairly disappointed in the game film I watched of Waynes, Collins, and even Johnson. Williams was very impressive against top receivers like Louisville’s DeVante Parker, but struggled other times. While Peters is very worthy of the Eagles top pick, his off field issues can not be ignored.
To me this means that any cornerback taken with the Eagles 20th pick could be considered a reach and it may be wiser for them to wait on the position until the second round. This leaves our top safety. Of course I am talking about Alabama’s Landon Collins. I must say that Collins truly lived up to all the hype coming out of high school, when I watch him play he looks strong in every facet of the game. He is a little bit small at 6’0 but his physicality makes up for that.
Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) celebrates with cornerback Richard Sherman (25) during the third quarter New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
A top rated under sized safety reminds me of someone else, but who might that be? The 5’10” Seattle Seahawk safety Earl Thomas comes to mind. The Eagles had a chance to get Thomas when they traded up in the 2010 draft and opted instead to take Michigan’s Brandon Graham. Collins could be a way to get the Eagles redemption for this mistake.
Experts like NFL Network’s Mike Mayock and ESPN’s Mel Kiper were baffled at the selection and thought that it was a reach. Obviously the rest is history, and for all we know Thomas could have been the difference between taking Eagles and the Seahawks to back to back super bowls.
The Eagles cannot afford to miss out on their next great safety again. With a tag team of Collins and safety Malcolm Jenkins the Eagles secondary begins to look formidable if not, very talented. If you throw in possible later round cornerbacks like Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu or a couple free agent cornerbacks like Seattle’s Byron Maxwell or Houston Texan’s cornerback Kareem Jackson and the Eagles defense begins to look like on of the better defense’s in the league.
As you can see if you watch the Landon Collins video above, Collins is one of the more physical and smart safeties to come out of the draft in years. He can diagnose a play with incredible speed and his raw tools are unmatchable in this class. The problem is that he may be too good. In his most recent mock draft (found here) ESPN’s Todd McShay predicted that Collins would fall to the Eagles pick at 20 saying:
"“He’s the No. 15 overall prospect on our board, has good range in coverage and is a playmaker when the ball is in the air. But where he excels most is in run support, which is a good fit in the NFC East, especially versus the Cowboys.” -Todd McShay"
While this would be the perfect scenario for the Eagles, it is highly unlikely as most project Collins to be a top ten pick. However, there are many rumors milling about the Eagles wanting to trade up in the draft. The problem is that they want quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Jan 2, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Derrick Woods (12) is tackled by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Landon Collins (26) in the first half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
That being said, the cost of getting Mariota is most likely going to be much to high and the Eagles already possess a very viable option at quarterback in Nick Foles. It would be much easier and more realistic for the Eagles to trade up to get Collins and probably more beneficial to the team’s future.
Next: Philadelphia Eagles Mock Draft Roundup 1.0
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